Calm before the storm

As the final whistle rang out in the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, a huge sigh of relief followed as Rayo staff drew a line under an incident that had caught the world’s attention. The tie against Real Madrid made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, for incidents off the pitch. What Los Vallecanos President, Raul Martin Presa, would describe as an act of ‘sabotage’ and ‘football terrorism’, also brought a system known as El Dia de Club into the spotlight.

For smaller clubs the visits of Real Madrid, Barcelona and also Atletico Madrid offers the chance of a payday. Some clubs charge higher ticket prices as they try to boost their coffers. Others, like Rayo Vallecano, charge their fans a supplement to attend games. When fans apply for their season tickets, the club makes the conditions very clear. The ticket allows them to attend 17 games and there will be two games during the year that, the club decide which ones, where fans will pay an extra €20 to attend.

This season it was decided, as expected, in Vallekas that Real Madrid would be one of the match days dedicated to be an infamous El Dia de Club. The other game that most fans thought they would have to pay for was the visit of the Los Cules. After the incident at the Madrid derby, where electrical cables were cut and accusations flew, some wondered whether the club would now charge when Messi and company came to town.

Little over two weeks ago the club announced that the Barca game would not be a El Dia de Club. Fans rejoiced, it was a small victory, but does it come at a price? It is now expected that the second game fans will be charged for will be against Atletico.

Whilst this may not be as an attractive tie, it does come later in the season when there is more to play for and the team will need the fans more than ever. Also should fans not take the option of attending and should Los Rojiblancos still be on their current good run – a big if but a possibility – it would be more profitable for the club as they would be able to sell the tickets not taken by fans for a minimum profit of €40, something that the Rayo board would definitely prefer.

Right now that is something the Vallekas faithful will put on the back burner. As Messi slotted home his second and Barca’s fifth on Saturday night, the loyal fans still stood by their side but exchanged worried looks. Rayo have problems and will struggle this season. Unless they do something quick, Los Dias de Club against Real Madrid and Barca may become a distant memory in the Segunda Division.